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biological bias?

During my last year of grad school, I conducted a research study related to parent-child closeness in adoption. While researching my topic, I found a study that coined the term “biological bias” to explain the reason why parents of biological kids rated their children as less difficult than parents of adopted children that displayed similar behaviors.

At the time the study spoke to me directly, and it resounds even stronger now given the current circumstances occurring within my family. Regular readers of my blog know that I never hesitate to spew my angst related to the antics of my adopted son. I go on and on about the broken rules, walls and doors. I pay little attention to his pleas for privacy. “I’m sick of you telling people my business” is heard but largely ignored.  I justify my printed words by telling myself that writing is a coping mechanism for me. But, if forced to be honest with myself, I would have to admit that more often than not, I wear my adoptive parent status as a badge of honor. I am seeking validation.

Currently, my youngest child is presenting a completely different set of challenges for me as a parent. The angst that I feel in response to this child’s behavior is different, but no less strong.  Writing about these challenges would likely be as cathartic as writing about my adopted son’s issues, yet I don’t. I am sad to admit that I am demonstrating my own version of biological bias. I am choosing to protect the privacy of my youngest son, a courtesy that I have not extended to his brother.

But that stops today. This blog will always serve as a medium to share things that are happening in my life, including the general challenges of parenting, caring for an aging parent and other issues that give me pause, however, the posts will be void of our dirty laundry.

I have several forums open to me that serve in supporting my role as an adoptive parent. I will continue to utilize them when I need to be propped up. I also have a great husband and supportive family to give me strength when other issues are threatening to pull me under water. I am eternally grateful.

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a fresh start

Another school year is upon us and we are all trying to settle in to the new normal.  With both of the younger boys starting HS, I was determined to impose structure to the weekdays/evenings. To that end, the boys are expected to be home each night for supper and both TV and computers screens are off unless required for school work.

After the first day, I diligently scanned class syllabi and filed away those that I would likely want to refer to again. I made a list of additional school supplies needed with a plan to pick them up this weekend.  I am determined to keep all 3 boys on track, checking in each evening about what is being presented in classes, related homework, and what assignments were looming on the horizon.

E’s schedule underwent some changes after his case manager determined that the skills course that she originally placed in him was not a good fit. The stress resulting from all of the schedule changes and the transition to the HS environment finally erupted on Thursday evening.  I rode the wave of yelling and insults with deep breathing and a strong Brandy 7. The night ended well with E and I having some 1:1 time on the couch before he went up to bed.

Youngest one got his first taste of the rigors of HS sports. He plays on the freshman FB team and had his first game on Thursday afternoon. He plays offense and defense in addition to being the team’s kicker, which translates to minimal opportunity to sit on the sidelines and catch his breath. After a dinner of Subway and reading a short story for English, he put himself to bed at 8:45pm.

Oldest is embracing his final year of HS in his usual happy go lucky style. The part-time job continues and his goal is to purchase a truck before the snow flies. The college mail keeps coming and we told him that he seriously needs to consider what his next move will be. I still need to schedule an appointment for him to have his senior portrait taken. The only blip on the radar was a missed orthodontist appointment, my fault for not having placed it on the calendar.

I am enjoying my new job and recently was able to swap a clinic that was 30 miles away to one that is 8 blocks from my house.  Covering 3 clinics, managing the needs of 130 patients and working with 3 different clinical teams is challenging, but void of monotony. My love of organizational systems has paid off and made the job manageable.

With the crisp days of fall upon us, I am content. Tom and two of the boys are taking in the Renaissance festival today.  I plan on doing some grocery shopping and baking a loaf of 5 minute artisan bread. Later, we will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary by taking in the Jazz festival on Selby avenue.  I think I’ll surprise Tom by suggesting that we take the motorcycle.  That might be the only gift that he needs.

crashed and burned

How is your summer going?  Well, since you asked,  youngest was brought home by the park police tonight. He was found trespassing at the old XCEL energy plant down off of Shepard Rd. Just for the record, we are in the first week of summer vacation. We have 9 1/2 left to go. The irony is that last evening during supper, Tom asked him about a text from a friend that referred to “the factory.”  After youngest explained what and where it was, Tom told him that he was not to go down there. Tom emphasized that he would be trespassing and breaking the law.

After the officer left, well needless to say, Tom went off.  Hell, I almost wet myself and I wasn’t guilty of anything.  Youngest took a step back after Tom kicked the garage door shut then proceeded to tell youngest his behavior was equivalent to telling Tom to F–k off.  After youngest went to his room, Tom and I discussed consequences.  Youngest is grounded for one week. He will spend part of that week volunteering at my work and the remainder will be spent deep cleaning the house. Community service imposed by judge Morrison is lighter than the alternative I’m sure.

In addition, youngest will have tighter geographical boundaries and will need to account for his whereabouts and the company that he is with.  Something tells me that this isn’t going to be the last time that  youngest makes the wrong decision.

What scares me the most is that when I asked him if he had thought about what Tom had said last night before going there  he said “not really.” I told him that I was scared to death; and that the next four years are going to be filled with opportunities to make the right choice or the wrong choice. What is a parent to do except pray that their child’s good choices outnumber the bad ones.

How is your summer going?

summer, summer, summer, it turns me upside down

Summer, summer, summer, its like a merry go round. This post’s title is the first phrase of a song I remember from HS. This summer is bound to turn me upside down for many reasons.

I will start out on a positive note. E just completed 8th grade. Though the first six years of his life consisted of multiple changes in caregivers and schools, I am proud to say that E successfully completed his 9th year in the same school.  We were fortunate enough to have a public K-8 school in our neighborhood with a phenomenal group of special ed teachers and a great social worker.

That being said 10 weeks of unstructured days have just begun. The kid who only wants to BMX bike and watch biking videos has no plan for the summer. A one week family vacation and a week at CYC camp will break up June and July quite nicely, but the rest of the time I can expect to come home to chaos.

To complicate matters, I will be starting a new job on July 2nd. My close proximity to home and the ability to flex my schedule to run home at a moment’s notice will be a thing of the past. There is an upside to this story and that is the fact that my sister who leaves nearby took the summer off to be with her own kids. An adoptive parent herself, she is my emergency backup plan.

She came to my rescue last summer after E got a ring stuck on his finger and called me crying about it. I was 30 minutes away in Minnetonka so my sister drove to my house to assess the situation (love having a nurse in the family) and ultimately drove him to the ER where they proceeded to spend 25 minutes cutting the ring off of his blue, swollen finger.

A byproduct for me of parenting a special needs child is that I find myself wishing away the summer months. Even when E was young enough for summer day camp programs, I couldn’t wait for the summer to be over. Too many phone calls and reports of bad behavior interrupted my work day.

Summers full of unstructured time has not been good for my non disabled children either.  P fell off of a roof and sustained cuts that went the length of his back, buttocks and legs, the result of hitting a gas grill on his way down.  M landed a jump wrong on his bike and  was seen at the doctor’s office to rule out a broken jaw. Summers are no picnic. They bring a level of stress into my workday that is not present when school is in session. And so today begins the countdown to Tuesday September 4th.  The first of August, I start to wait for the first Target ad featuring school supplies. I begin singing that famous Christmas song “Its the most wonderful time of the year.” My kids give me dirty looks when I sing.

This coming fall, all three of my children will be in the same school for the first time in 9 years. I will go from tracking 3 school calendars down to one. This is a good thing!! I’ve save the details for another blog post.

sick and tired

Shit where do I begin tonight.  I must have a glass of wine before I spew my frustration about everything from my dad’s care to my son to my looming job change.  Ok, that’s better. My son E asked me just now, “Why do you like alcohol so much?  I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t tell him that it makes being his parent on a night like tonight just a little bit easier.

I went to see my dad at the nursing home on Friday night. He was leaning to one side in his wheelchair.  I went to boost him to the other side and noticed that his pants had a 5 inch vertical rip which started at the waistband. I found another pair with an identical rip in his dirty clothes hamper. When his closet revealed no more clean pants, I was off to Walmart to shop. When I got back to the nursing home an hour later with 3 pairs of pants and two shirts, dad was safely in bed. I don’t know if I am more pissed at the stupidity of the nursing assistants for ripping his pants in the first place, or their carelessness at not letting someone know the pants were ripped.

E bought a used bike from a friend. After the purchase was complete, he set out to dismantle the bike and put on different parts. Within 2 days the bike was no longer operational. Shocking, I know.  The two days that the bike was working were pure joy.  E was virtually never home. He left home right after school and came back at 8 or 9pm. I told Tom last evening that it would be wise on our part to bring the bike in for repair. After all, money spent on bike parts is well spent when it results in a peaceful house.  Well the bike was not ready today as promised and as a result, E went off.  The irony is that I tried to attend my adoption support group tonight, but missed it due to a location change of which I was unaware. Hence the glass of wine, though a poor substitute for a room full of parents who get it.

Now on to the job.  I accepted a position as a social worker with a local provider of kidney dialysis. It will be great experience and the job itself can be considered “clinical” experience which I need for my licensure.  The problem is that I keep having second thoughts about leaving my current position. I realize my current position leaves no room for advancement as a social worker.  It makes no sense for me to be paying on student loans while in a position that does not utilize my masters degree. That being said, it is awfully easy to find the great things about a job as you leaving it.  When I saw the posting fory position, I wanted to cry.

Well I got the venting out of the way. I am sitting on my front porch with an empty wine glass and a cool breeze blowing on me.  Perfect place to watch an episode of Ally McBeal on Netflix.  Ending the night with laughter will be good.

the rigors of high school

I have a very unhappy 16 yr old. He is struggling with honors English and feeling pretty hopeless right now. The class is reading a book by William Faulkner.  My son says that he does not understand the language and cannot comprehend the themes etc that he needs to be able to write about for the critical analysis that are required for the class. He has  a presentation hanging over head for which he is completely ill prepared.

Despite the encouragement and suggestions that Tom and I have made, he continues to feel defeated and wants to skip the presentation and take a zero.  I feel for him. There is nothing worse than watching your peers excel at something when you already feel grossly inadequate.

He is stressed from work as well. The past two evening shifts have been much busier than he has been accustomed to. Also, some of the customers haven’t been so nice which has added to his frustration. At the same time, his “band” has decided to audition for the school talent show and my son said that he would make sure the drum set got to school.

I am feeling burdened for him and wish that I could take away his pain and frustration. I have a hard time not feeling as though I have set him up for failure. As parents we have not been very good about keeping strict rules about homework time and electronics. We have let the kids get away with underachieving.

At the same time, I believe that the work that is expected of children today is a bit out of control.  My coworker told me today that her fifth grade daughter had the work “indignant” included in her vocabulary assignment. I’m indignant that grade school children would be expected to have a vocabulary that some college kids lack.

God, what to do with kids and homework. As I sit here Patrick is watching tv. He had to look up one more source tonight for his history day project. Meanwhile my nephew who is also an 8th grader was being asked to find 100 facts for his history day paper which should be close to 8 pages. Eight pages for an 8th grader.  Unreal.

What are parents to do?

piercings

My son likes to poke holes in his face.  Beginning about age 9, he began to ask if he could get his ears pierced.  I figured that if he was a girl we would have said “yes” so to me it was no big deal. Tom adamantly disagreed.  By age 12, Tom had come around and we surprised him with a trip to Walmart on his 12th birthday. He left the store with the bling that he had long craved.

Well, the piercings became a major pain in my ass and pain in my son’s ears.  My son found it difficult to leave the earrings alone.  He repeatedly lost the earrin backs and subsequently the earrings themselves.  There were many arguments over my refusal to continue to replace earrings that my son had used irresponsibly.  As of today he only wears an earring in one ear.

His latest obsession is with lip piercings. Our response to his latest request has been a strong “NO.”  Unfortunately, his parent’s lack of support  has not stopped his attempts to add ornamentation to his mouth by his own hands. Several months ago, my son told me that he has indeed succeeded in piercing his lip.  He stated that he used one of my sewing needles and had sterilized the needle with alcohol prior to using it.  I warned him of the risk of infection and told him essentially to “knock that shit off.” If only my warnings were heeded.

The other night as I entered my bathroom to ready myself for bed I noticed several pieces of bloody Kleenex  and cotton balls in the bathroom trash. I entered my son’s room and demanded to know what he had pierced.  After initial denials, he admitted to piercing his lip again.  I again warned him of the risk of infection that he faces every time he places a foreign object through his skin.

The irony is that this child is a germaphobe to the extreme.  He soaks his toothbrush in boiling water if it falls in the sink.  He will not use a drinking glass if there is a tiny chance that someone else used it first.  Most nights he replaces the silverware at his place because it does not meet his specifications for cleanliness.  In an attempt to prevent further piercings, I locked the alcohol and sewing needles in my room.  Oh, how naive I am to think that my proactive move would succeed in deterring him!

As of last night he is sporting  a new piece of metal in his lower lip.  I am at a point where I simply don’t really give a shit.  This child has not up until now taken to heart any of my warnings.  I am resigned to the fact that at some point in the near future he and I will be trotting down to our doctor’s office for Penicillin.  I will, however,  be sure to request that it be given via an injection in his ass, so he’ll be sure to feel the consequence.